Honoring Pearl Harbor in Fredericksburg, Texas

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Seventy-five years ago, at 7:55 a.m., the United States was thrown into World War II with a vengeance. Chaos reigned as bombs fell from the sky obliterating the Naval Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor. Tom Gillette will never forget that day. The then ten-year-old son of a Navy Captain lived on Oahu. He was playing with a neighbor child as the attack commenced. As the roar of planes shattered the still morning air, Tom and his buddy ran outside. They watched 20 torpedo planes flying low and in single file above Gillette’s home. The planes were part of the 300 the Japanese sent that day to bomb the island’s extensive military facilities. Originally the attack was scheduled to take place after Japan issued an official declaration of war on the United States. A delay in the delivery of the message turned the attack into an ambush. The message arrived in the middle of the attack.

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center).

Photo: By Unknown – Official U.S. Navy photograph NH 50930., Public Domain

More than 350 Japanese planes swooped down beginning at 7:55 a.m., destroying or damaging 19 U.S. ships, eight of them battleships in just over an hour, according to the National World War II Museum. The sneak attack also destroyed 169 Navy and Air Force planes and damaged another 159.

Sixty-eight civilians died in the attack, and 1,178 military personnel were injured. Half of those who died were aboard the U.S.S. Arizona, which remains sunken in the harbor.

Join Tom Gillette today at the Pacific War Museum to hear his story first hand. The memorial celebration begins at 12:25 p.m.  and is free to the public.  According to marketing director, Brandon Vinyard, it’s best to arrive early. The event always ends up being standing room only.


Photo: By IJN – U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.159. Public Domain

The event includes patriotic music, and presentation of the colors promptly at 12:25 p.m. The Heritage School Choir will sing and a wreath presentation by Pearl Harbor survivors may occur depending on the weather.

According to the Kerrville Daily Times, one survivor, who lives in North Texas, has committed to participating, he said. “We might have more show up,” Vinyard said. “You never know.”

The Nimitz Living History Detachment also will perform a three-gun salute, Vinyard said. The detachment currently has about 100 members, who perform in the museum’s popular outdoor re-enactments.

Participation in the gun salutes, however, is limited in the gun salutes to the best-trained volunteers, Vinyard said. “We have them do it right,” Vinyard said. “We can’t have them slacking off. It’s an important symbol for those who lost their lives.”

Pearl Harbor The_USS_Arizona_BB-39_burning_after_the_Japanese_attack

Photo: By Photographer: Unknown Retouched by: Mmxx – File:The USS Arizona (BB-39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – NARA – 195617 Public Domain

The museum has also partnered with the Texas State Historical Association for a live webinar at 6 p.m. featuring James D. Hornfischer, bestselling author of The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacfiic, 1944-1945.

This year marks 75 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mr. Hornfischer will discuss the history surrounding the event and its connection to Texas. Mr. Hornfischer will join us for a live chat during the airing to answer your questions.